i didn't have lunch until almost 2:30pm, making another egg prosciutto english muffin sandwich along with a cup of espresso coffee. afterwards i went to star market to stock up on some frozen food and pasta sauce on sale, and to also use the $30 mass save reward card.
it actually didn't really rain for much of the day, just very cloudy with the threat of rain. so in the late afternoon i grabbed my gloves and pruning shearers and went to the community garden to do a little more work in my plot. yesterday i forgot to cut down the milkweed stalks. i was going to leave them and collect the seeds but saw that they were infested with orange aphids. i chopped them down and tossed them away. while i was working, 2 dozen elementary school children came into the garden with their teacher. they were running around noisily playing hide-and-seek. annoyed, i quickly finished up and left.
back at home, i did some raking and cleaning up some dead plants. with steve and paul gone, all that work is left up to me since the rental tenants aren't going to do any maintenance work. the backyard oak still hasn't shed most of its leaves, so another round of major raking is in store in a few weeks. my original plan for today was to go to belmont to do some more yard work, but not knowing when it might rain, i decided to postpone it until monday, hopefully after some painting work.
when evening rolled around, i went to the kitchen to make some tonkatsu.
i believe the first time i ever made tonkatsu was back in 2010. the first time i made tonkatsu was back in 2007. it was just fried pork cutlet with rice. i upped my game in 2011, when i added cabbage, but was missing the pickled radish. i also overfried my tonkatsu and they came out slightly burnt. a week later i added the radish but was missing the cabbage. tonight, 7 years later, all the pieces will finally come together. i haven't made tonkatsu since 2011, more than 7 years ago.
i basically followed this recipe on justonecookbook.com which has a very detailed explanation with photos of making tonkatsu or japanese panko-fried pork cutlet. over the past few days i've slowly collected the necessary ingredients. the recipe is actually quite easy, the hardest part is the frying, which i've always found challenging. i haven't done any frying in a while, and afterwards i realized why that was: because my house smells like frying oil afterwards. even if it doesn't smoke up and splatter everywhere, evaporated oil will still manage to permeate the house. i used indian basmati rice because i didn't have any other rice (i personally don't cook a lot of rice, only a few handful of occasions a year). i discovered the rice had expired back in 2012 but i used it anyway (honestly, can white rice really expire?). later i found some basmati jasmine rice in the cupboard: that only expired last year (2017) so i could've used that instead. i cooked a cup of rice with 1-3/4 cups of water (long grain) in the rice cooker.
while that was going on, i prepared the pork chops ($1.99/lbs.), scoring the edges (keeps it from curling) and pounding it with a tenderizing hammer (for revenge). i then set up my dredging station: flour (which had also expired back in 2012! what's going on!), egg wash (with a little bit of canola oil), and finally panko crumbs ($1.29 8 oz. container). the recipe said to use softened panko which i sprayed with a water bottle and left it to sit for half an hour.
while i was dredging, i heated up the cooking oil on the stove, about a quarter container of canola oil. it was enough to barely cover the pork chops. instead of measuring the temperature, i eyeballed it by submerging my wooden chopsticks and seeing if it was boiling in the hot oil. i was making 2 cutlets. the first one fried a little light, the second one was much darker. i left then to cool for a few minutes on a drying rack while i took the frying oil off the stove.
i started chopping up the chinese cabbage (used up a quarter, 59¢/lbs.) then slicing the pickled radish ($2.39, came as a long 18" cylinder, more radish that i needed but it was the smallest size they carried). after a few minutes, put the oil back on the stove to fry the cutlets a second time, double frying for extra crispiness.
i was hungry enough to think i could eat both cutlets but i could only eat one, saving the second for tomorrow. the tonkatsu turned out very well, very professional-looking with a crispy crust that clung to the pork. the first cutlet was lighter in color probably because the frying oil wasn't hot enough at the time, even after i double fried it. but double frying is definitely the way to go for additional crispiness. even though i seasoned it with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, the tonkatsu itself was a little bland, but the katsu sauce really helps. i sprinkled some furikake onto my culturally-mismatched basmati rice. the combination of crispy warm pork cutlet, crunchy cold raw cabbage, and crunchy sweet and salty pickled cabbage mixed with the hot rice made for a very nice combination. fried cutlet isn't probably very healthy, but so much of the dish is vegetables (cabbage, radish, rice) that i think it makes up for it.
i was about to finish up eating when i checked the webcams (as i do on occasions) and saw that the camera at my parents' place was down. the last time that happened, it was because the ip number had changed. i checked the status of the wifi plugs: two of them were working, one of them wasn't. it was so strange i had no choice but to investigate. i quickly ate the last bite of my tonkatsu, got dressed, and left by 9pm.
it would've been faster by car, but i didn't want to give up my parking spot. instead, i took my fuji bike with the led wheels, perfect for speedy night traveling. weather wasn't bad, temperature in the upper 50's, but still cold enough that i wore my two layer jacket. i got there in under 15 minutes, all sorts of crazy thoughts swimming through my head. the house wasn't on fire, which assuaged one of my fears. i went inside and nothing seemed amiss, but i went into the kitchen and grabbed a knife anyway, just in case. other was fine. even the wifi plug - which had been malfunctioning before - now was working again. the webcam didn't work because the ip number had renewed yet again.
the dahlia tubers i dug up more than a week ago have dried. unfortunately they've also shriveled up a little bit. i heard my sister mentioning something about this happening to her tubers. i read online the trick is to spray them with water to bring back their plumpiness. they should also be stored in slightly damp peat moss.
i took a few minutes to rest up before i got on my bike and pedaled back to cambridge. nothing like having a delicious dinner then going out biking for a 6 miles roundtrip ride. it wasn't raining but there was a little bit of fog which created a misting. while putting the bike back in the basement, i could smell the frying oil odor through the floorboards. if only there was an easier frying solution! like doing it from my backyard, or even better, from the porch, without risking burning the porch down!